Why I teach under 5’s now…

So I lectured for 5 years, & I got my degree in Higher Education Cum Laude. As with most jobs, I has some who loved me & some who hated me. The thing I’d like to point out is that the hatred seemed to be mostly due to my determination to EDUCATE… Something that took a while for me to understand.

Who did these objections come from?
Interesting question. My colleagues, superiors, students & even their families. In general, there is a gross misunderstanding about what education is, and what it should be. I am still slightly haunted by the fact that bailing means that the shallow, meaningless politics of it all got an extra point; but I do hope that the 9 months I spent finding & preparing my replacement countered that slightly. I was simply running out of energy for the fight, and it was a fight much needed.

Leaving education left me depressed. I love design, writing, my husband, & my church, but nothing I did for any of them gave me quite the same kick. I’d already tried teaching school kids at holiday club & found that I survived, but we did not quite get each other, so I stuck with adults.

I helped with a craft training rehabilitation project, but the adults I was meant to help could barely thread beads in order & I was close to going insane after the second week.
I found that teaching Bible studies was great, but something was still missing.

I tried throwing myself into motherhood & being a good wife, but I just can’t be brilliant 24/7/365, so there were many ups & down. One of my motherly meetings was attending a church meeting on the future of the Sunday school. I was effectively taking every 2nd creche because there were only 2 of us with kids that age and no one else was interested in helping. During the meeting it came up that they were hiring a full time person for the older kids, & maybe we should just scrap the younger ones & merge the with the cry room.

I can be out spoken & the best of times, & I did not enjoy the cry room, but I had also found creche duty a burden, so I was extremely surprised when:
I jumped right out of my seat in outrage, insisted that we not only keep the younger class, but teach them properly (we used to teach, but it had become very relaxed) & prepare them for Sunday school, & who knows what other stuff I had never knowingly thought of. I was surrounded by trained school teachers & kindergarten teachers, even a few who studied early childhood development. I was just a concerned mum, meant only to be informed… The pastor calmly looked me in the eye & said that there are a few more kids due to join in the next 6 months, so maybe its not a bad idea, & if I feel that strongly, and have thought about it that much, then perhaps I should head it up alongside the new Sunday-school lady since she has no experience or training in under 5’s. Ouch! What! But my training is strictly over-18’s hers is over-5’s… Hers is Biblical, mine is secular…

That was about 2,5 years ago… And he was completely right! As soon as I stopped baby-sitting the creche as a chore, & taught Bible Tots as a ministry, it became the light of my week. That light over flows into my home. My kids know which weeks I teach, & look forward to my preparations… Nagging me about what crafts I’ll do, and what I’m teaching. I specifically teach the 1&2 year olds now, and there tend to be between 6 & 15 of them. My kids have others teaching them in classes that are increasingly part of the normal Sunday school program and I think the transitions are working brilliantly.

Best of all, since changing to under 5’s:
– I have not had one single student who did not want to learn!
– all the parents who gave me trouble about my teaching, it was just because they were afraid that their child couldn’t do what I was asking, but their joy & pride at being proven wrong won them over very quickly and easily (& hopefully improved the learning environment at home)
– I don’t have any rubbish politics to worry about, I can focus on what is important for the kids I’m teaching.
– Their skills and abilities grow SO much faster than ANY adult I’ve ever taught, even the really talented ones (sorry guys, hats just how they’re built)

(Of course I also don’t make a cent, where I used to get payed sporadically & went to various conferences for my research.)

If I were free to attend the evening service, I’d gladly teach every week. The excitement on their faces when They see me at the start of class fills me more than my lecturing ever did, even when some of my first years became graduated with their Masters, & did their theses in areas I sparked their interest in… (Oh, & I was the one who talked them into being my research assistants during their honors… Which got them interested in research).

Teaching little ones has also improved my ability to teach the elderly.
I remember teaching a study on the trinity at a home for the elderly a while back, & they were amazed that they could understand it. But I had taught a similar study in a few parts to my 2 & 4 year old girls and you really have to understand your doctrine yourself in order to explain it for a 2 year old to understand, even a little. And going through that process makes it much easier to then flesh it out in an understandable way for grown ups.

Would I ever lecture higher education again?
I don’t know. I’d love to do guest lectures, or a short series occasionally, but I don’t know if I’ll ever be up to facing that hostile environment head on again. I have amazing regard for those who are able, and I still pray for those who are willing to stick it out & do the job properly.
I have done quite a bit of external moderation work for design institutions, but I’ve never been approached by my former employer for this. Perhaps I burned too many bridges while i was there, and the remainder when I left.

The future:
I’d like to study early learning & focus on teaching kids the skills they will need to cope in higher education, & hopefully a love of learning that will protect them from the mindless culture of entitlement that current education seems to be breeding. I want my pre-preK kids to get to my counter-parts at varsities & colleges & be eager to learn, & equipped to do so. Before age 5 is when the neurons are developing fastest! This is when their career prep starts with spacial perception etc. & best of all, the teaching methodology is called PLAY! & I really want to guide kids though that learning. I just need to be patient while my own kids grow & need their own guiding.

Mark 10:13-16 (ESV)
13 And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them.
14 But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.
15 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.”
16 And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.

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